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What Is Timolol?

Timolol is a prescription beta blocker used to treat glaucoma or migraines and to lower the risk of repeat heart attacks. It may be prescribed as tablets, eye drops, or extended release gel-forming eye drops.

Timolol is classified as a beta blocker. Beta blockers reduce blood pressure by blocking the effects of adrenaline in the body. They also help dilate, or open, blood vessels to improve blood flow.

The type of timolol your doctor prescribes depends upon the condition being treated. Migraine sufferers and heart attack patients are prescribed tablets, while glaucoma patients receive regular or extended release eye drops to specifically target pressure inside the eye.

How to Use Timolol

Take oral medication exactly as your doctor prescribes. You can take timolol with or without food. If you miss a dose and there are less than four hours until your next dose is due, wait until it is time to take it again and skip the missed dose.

Use eye drops according to your doctor’s instructions. Wash your hands before and after using it to avoid contamination or transfer of the medication to family or pets. If you wear contacts, remove them and don’t put them in again until 15 minutes after you use the medicine.

Follow these steps for each eye:

  1. Shake regular eye drops well. You only need to shake gel-forming eye drops once.
  2. Lie down or tilt your head back. Use one finger to pull down your lower eyelid, forming a pocket.
  3. Without touching the tip to your eye, place one drop in the pocket formed by your eyelid. If your prescription calls for more than one drop per eye, wait 5 minutes before inserting another.
  4. Close your eyes, and gently place your index finger over the inner corner of your eye to keep the medicine from draining out.

When you are finished treating both eyes, replace the cap without wiping the tip to avoid contamination.

Timolol Side Effects

Oral

Never stop taking timolol without consulting your doctor. Suddenly stopping this medication can cause chest pain or a heart attack. Other side effects include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Cold hands or feet

Call your doctor if these symptoms are severe or persistent.

Serious side effects requiring immediate medical attention include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Swollen hands or feet
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Chest pain
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat

Ophthalmic Solution

Contact your doctor if the following symptoms are severe or persistent:

  • Double vision
  • Irritated eyes
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Depression

Stop using the medication and call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following serious symptoms:

  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swollen feet or lower legs
  • Fainting

Timolol Interactions

Timolol can interact with many different medications, especially those prescribed for asthma, chest pain, diabetes and arrhythmia. Make sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins or herbal supplements.

People with low blood pressure, certain heart conditions, asthma or cardiopulmonary disorder (COPD), or diabetes should not use timolol. 

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